No, this is not going to be a long piece about the demise of Osama bin Laden, but the death of that terrorist Sunday does raise a question for me. For nearly 10 years, since bin Laden orchestrated the attacks on America on 9/11/01, I have not used the word “hate” in conjunction with athletics.
Prior to that date I was guilty of casually using the word to describe my feelings toward a rival team of any team I happened to be emotionally involved with. That has always included West Virginia University football and men’s basketball teams. Once upon a time I was emotionally attached to some pro teams, but not so much anymore. In any event, the actions of bin Laden on that sunny day in September, and his subsequent messages to our citizens, has changed my perspective on how I will refer to opposing athletic teams moving forward.
Details of the attack on the compound that housed bin Laden have not been elaborated on, but it sounds like the actions emerged straight out of a movie or TV program like The Unit. The facts promise to be fascinating.
In an interesting twist, the news of bin Laden’s death was met in Morgantown with couch burning. Often ridiculed for their couch burning antics, something tells me that this round of burning by the students will be viewed differently.
It was in Morgantown on Friday night where another brand of attack was unveiled at the annual Gold-Blue game. That would be the new pass happy offense being installed by new offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Dana Holgorsen. By virtually all accounts, the unveiling was a success.
Not a whole lot can be taken from the 83-17 score, because the format being used is geared for the score to be large. That is because the first offense plays the second team defense and vice-versa. Also it is strictly the offense against the defense in this game with the defense being very limited in how they can score points. So, we probably won’t see West Virginia hang 83 points on anyone this year. For example, in this scrimmage 31 of the 83 points were awarded for first downs.
What we can draw some conclusions from are the raw numbers that included 683 passing yards and 838 total yards. Quarterback Geno Smith did not go against the first team defense, which would have been a more reliable measurement, but he torched the second team unit. Smith was 26 of 37 for 388 yards and four touchdowns. Some observers said Smith will excel against most Big East defenses, not just WVU’s second team.
The numbers certainly suggest that perhaps the defense may be a bit on the underdeveloped side, but that is not clear. Yes, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has to replace seven starters and develop depth, but the first team defense only gave up one touchdown on a long play by Trey Johnson on a swing pass.
While their were a number of noteworthy performances, true freshman running back Vernard Roberts continued to make a push for playing time as he had 64 yards rushing and 41 receiving. Perhaps the biggest eye opener came from Ryan Nehlen, the grandson of former head coach Don Nehlen.
The junior walk on from University High has apparently come out of spring practice as a first team receiver. Nehlen made a variety of catches that pleased the coaching staff and his effort has moved him ahead of former five star recruit Ivan McCartney heading into August.